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11

Aug

New York To Curb Traffic With Fees

New York City may lay down policies to levy traffic congestion fee to curb city's traffic problems, according to NYC Governor Andrew Cuomo. He told the New York Times last week that traffic pricing is an idea whose time has definitely arrived.



Singapore, Stockholm and London have made great progress in reducing road congestion by levying small fee to motorists during busy hours. Unfortunately, no city in the United States has adopted this idea. 

With that said, Governor Cuomo is in the process of completing draft plans to impose road pricing also known as road users charges on vehicles entering the city. The city's current strategies of handling traffic congestion are totally ineffective. 

If New York enforces this idea that has worked perfectly well in London and Singapore, the idea could spread to other U.S. cities. Many states have explored it for decades though. For example, Florida uses it for bridges while California uses it for highways. Minneapolis allowed motorists to pay a small fee to use speedier vehicle lanes; this reduced rush hour congestion by 50 percent. It also reduced car crashes by 12 percent. San Francisco is still working on it. 

It is worth noting that New York has tried numerous times to enforce congestion fees. Ten years ago, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg attempted to introduce an 8-dollar fee for cars entering Manhattan during the peak hours. It was estimated to make 491 million dollars every year. The money was supposed to be used for transport improvements, reduce emissions and reduce traffic jam by 30%.

Sadly, Bloomberg's proposal met a strong opposition in the state legislature. His plan was blocked and therefore did not come into fruition. Some critics claim traffic pricing is unfair especially to lower-income motorists. 

Governor Cuomo's proposal has won the support of various stakeholders and attracted attention from different news outlets. Even so, Mayor Bill De Blasio has never bought in the idea. He said that was not part of his plan. Blasio Administration traffic congestion plan does not include congestion fees at all. It encourages off-peak deliveries. It also focuses on increased number of traffic police and raising fees for on-street parking. 

But now Blasio has no choice. He could look bad if he does not work with Governor Cuomo on an idea that civic traders have vowed to support. 

If the governor and the mayor cooperate to implement, it would be for the good of the city. It would also make other U.S. cities follow in the footsteps of New York. Congestion pricing could be very effective to minimize air pollution as well.  

Final Thoughts 

Needless to say traffic is a nightmare in New York because drivers do not pay anything for road use. That is one of the reasons traffic congestion is clogging city's highway, and complicating lives. Enforcing traffic fee is not a permanent solution for any city's traffic problems. In fact, no permanent solution exists. But Governor Cuomo's congestion pricing plan could reduce traffic as well as improve air quality. 

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